Europe is a great place to visit — there’s a lot to see and it’s easy to get around. If you travel to the UK, it’s only a short hop across the channel to France, which is bordered by Germany. And Spain. And … well, you get the idea. If you want to explore Europe, but you’re not sure which visas you need, you should find all the answers in this episode.

To listen, hit play below or find episode 87 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud:

When travelling to Europe, you’ll first need to check if you need a visa. If you live in the EU, you won’t need a visa to travel within the EU or in most other countries in Europe. If you live anywhere else in the world, you might or might not need a visa.

Visa waivers

There are many places where you can get by without a visa, using the visa waiver programme. If this is the case — and we’ll tell you when it is — you don’t need anything but your passport.

Although visa waivers exist, you may still be asked about your plans and be asked to provide proof of means or a return ticket at any border control. Border guards in Europe are generally friendly and professional, but remember they have the right to search your belongings, refuse you entry or even arrest you if they suspect something untoward.

Dual citizenship

It’s definitely worth looking into getting a second passport if you’re eligible, but look into it closely.

If you or one of your parents were born in a country other than the one you have citizenship with, you can probably get a passport from that country. There’s huge advantages to doing this, since you can choose which passport to travel on. If one country requires a visa for entry and the other doesn’t, you can choose to travel on the passport that doesn’t need a visa.

However, there can be issues surrounding having dual nationality. You might have obligations or responsibilities in the second country that you don’t know about – for example, if you’re over 18 and a male Greek citizen, you should perform military service. Other countries have obligatory voting – you have to vote in elections whether you’re in the country or not.

It’s definitely worth looking into getting a second passport if you’re eligible, but look into it closely. Some countries deem it illegal to have two nationalities. Japan, for example – if you are Japanese and get a passport from a second country, you have effectively renounced your Japanese citizenship. However, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the UK and the US allow dual citizenship. Be aware that if you’re American and you have a second passport, you must enter the US on your US passport.

Visa info for the UK


  • Visa waiver: Nationals of about half the countries in the world can visit the UK for up to six months without a visa. This includes NZ, Australia, Canada, South Africa and the US, however citizens of some countries require one. Visit to see if you need a visa and what sort. You cannot work if you enter the UK using the visa waiver programme.
  • Ancestry: If your parents were from the UK, apply for a passport. But if you’re a Commonwealth citizen and one of your grandparents was from the UK you can get a four-year ancestry visa. Commonwealth includes NZ, Canada, Australia and South Africa.
  • Spouse: If your significant other is a UK citizen, you may be eligible for a spouse’s visa, which allows you to live and work in the UK for two years.
  • Other: There’s a myriad of other visas available, including student visas and work an holiday visas. See below for information on work and holiday visas, or visit for information about other visas.
  • Shengen

    One of the factors that makes travel in Europe more doable is the existence of the Schengen zone — a group of countries that have agreed to share a common border. This means that if you can enter one Schengen country, you can enter them all.

    The Schengen zone currently comprises the following countries:
    Czech Republic

    The Schengen zone is not the same thing as the European Union. Most countries in the Schengen zone are also in the EU, but the UK and Ireland are EU members but not Schengen, and Iceland and Norway are Schengen but not EU. And Switzerland isn’t a member of the EU either, despite its very central location, but has recently joined the Schengen zone — it’s implementing changes at the moment. Other countries have expressed an interest in joining the zone, so this list is subject to change.

    Visa info for the Shengen zone

    Citizens of the USA, Canada or Australia can enter the Schengen zone for up to 90 days in a six-month period without a visa. This is strictly for tourism; no working allowed! You can also enter the UK for up to six months.

    New Zealanders are a lucky bunch: they are able to spend up to 90 days in each of the Schengen countries, rather than 90 days in the entire zone.

    Work and travel visas

    If you want to explore Europe long-term and don’t have the cash to pay for two years of travel, a work and travel (or work and holiday) visa might be what you’re after. They’re usually valid for one or two years, and you can work for up to half of that time (i.e. six months or a year). There are lots of options around, but make sure you check the small print before you apply.

    • I’m Canadian–
      Canada has working holiday agreements with France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. There are also Young Workers Exchange Programs operating with Austria, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.
    • I’m Australian–
      Working holiday agreements are in place with Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
    • I’m a Kiwi–
      Working holiday agreements are in place with many countries including Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
    • I’m South African–
      South Africans can apply for a working holiday visa for the United Kingdom, but I have been unable to find details on any other working holiday agreements currently in place. SASTS is the best website for further information.
    • I’m American…
      Sorry, working holiday visas aren’t available for European countries for American citizens. However, there are Young Workers Exchange Programs to several countries.

    Remember that countries change their immigration policies often, so use this information as a guide only. Check with your embassy for up-to-date visa information. A lot of this information came from Craig’s ebook, Travelling Europe, which is available from

    Don’t forget to check out Nathan’s site, and the rickshaw run blog. Thanks to Gary Arndt from Everything Everywhere for asking us the questions that led to the creation of this episode.

    Your thoughts on "European visas for newbies podcast"

    • I know Korea isn't in Europe but hay its in Eurasia so i guess that counts. I recently had to get a student visa and one has to come in person to a consulate to get any type of visa which can require driving or even getting a flight depending on where you live which is a hassle. as an American if you intend to stay over 30 days a visa of some type is required On the topic of working in America I know that if one comes over on a student visa you can be employed by the university that you are attending. I know at my university many minor jobs are given to people on student visas while not the most glamorous work it is a job. Other than that I know that many amusement parks have eastern European workers but they must come through a guest worker program that requires a agency that keeps track of the worker.

      on January 19, 2009 at 2:12 pm Reply
    • These are great tips. It's so easy, as an American, to take for granted that we can arrive somewhere and, for the most part, not need to get a visa. Great work!

      on January 19, 2009 at 11:12 pm Reply
    • A helpful addition; thanks Jeff. I think it's this guest worker programme that makes it difficult for Americans to get Work and Study programmes happening with European countries. It just doesn't fit the reciprocal nature of their agreements. Are you in Korea now? I'd love to chat about your experiences for a show if you're keen.

      on January 19, 2009 at 3:03 pm Reply
    • no not yet i leave in mid February. once I get a handle of what South Korea is like and Ive seen a few places I would be glad to talk on the show

      on January 21, 2009 at 9:32 am Reply
      • Awesome, Jeff. Have a great time. We look forward to hearing from you in South Korea.

        on January 21, 2009 at 10:42 am Reply
    • We can add to this article! The American government actually plays a significant role in the problems for young Americans traveling and working abroad. I know in Thailand the stipulation is that Americans must be paid a minimum of 50,000 or 60,000 baht per month. This is impossible as only a limited number employers can afford this type of income. Yes in time, if you make Thailand your home, your salary can match your commitment and experience. Though for most who have a degree, and enjoy traveling then a 12 month contract teaching English is viewed as the most popular. Most of the Americans we have met struggle to obtain legitimate work with permits due to this horrendous government control; and we think the USA is a democracy!!!

      on April 6, 2010 at 9:29 pm Reply
    • Most countries in Europe have high unemployment and therefore the EU countries are offered first selection for employment. Voluntry work is widely available to travelers from non EU countries. This is often a way to move into paid employment.

      on April 14, 2010 at 9:25 pm Reply
    • hello sir i want to know that can i get visa of germany after arive their? and for how many days visa will be issued?

      on June 5, 2010 at 10:38 pm Reply

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